Active Duty Military and Veteran Defense
Boston Active Duty Military Defense Lawyer serving Massachusetts and the Greater Boston area including South Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy, New Bedford, Taunton, Attleboro, Lowell, Woburn, Medford, Waltham, Wareham, Lynn, Lawrence, Wrentham, Dedham, Salem, Fall River, Brookline, Chelsea, Worcester, Framingham, Everett, Revere, Dorchester and Roxbury and all smaller cities and rural areas in Massachusetts.
Pretrial Diversion Programs: The Valor Act
The Valor Act, otherwise known as “An Act Relative to Veterans’ Access, Livelihood, Opportunity and Resources,” was passed into law in 2012 as M.G.L.A. 276A § 10-11. The Valor Act gives district court judges the option to divert eligible active duty military or veterans instead of formally charging them with a crime and then prosecuting them. This law can be very valuable to a criminal defense attorney that represents an eligible veteran or active duty serviceman. Unfortunately there are many criminal defense attorneys in Massachusetts that are not even aware of this defense.
This pretrial diversion program focuses on getting our military the treatment and education they need to improve the quality of their lives. Instead of charging our veterans, prosecuting them and punishing them this law allows us to provide them with necessary rehabilitative services.
Not every veteran or active duty serviceman qualifies for pre-trial diversion under the Valor Act. In order to qualify you need to meet the following requirements:
- Either be a veteran or an active duty serviceman in the United States armed forces, or have some form of military history;
- Be charged with a crime that is punishable by prison time;
- Be charged in a district court or the Boston Municipal Court;
- Since turning age 18, have no prior criminal convictions, outstanding warrants, or pending criminal cases. There is an exception for a conviction for traffic violations;
- Would benefit from participating in the pre-trial diversion rehabilitative program
It is important to know that anyone eligible under the Valor Act must pursue this pre-trial diversion program prior to being formally arraigned. This option is off the table after the arraignment. Hiring an attorney that knows this is important.
At the arraignment an experienced criminal defense attorney will inform the judge about why his client is eligible for pre-trial diversion under the Valor Act. The attorney should also inform the probation department prior to arraignment so the probation department can verify eligibility before the arraignment is held.
If the veteran or active duty serviceman qualifies the judge will delay/continue the arraignment for 14 days. The court will then have the eligible candidate undergo an assessment at United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services, or some other federal or state agency that is familiar with such assessments.
If the assessment reveals that the defendant is suffering from some form of mental illness or substance abuse then a formal report will be submitted to the court along with treatment options/recommendations. One of the recommendations can be pre-trial diversion.
The following are some of the many crimes the Valor Act can be used against
Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorneys for Pretrial Diversion Programs: The Valor Act
If you are facing criminal charges and would like to discuss your legal options, including entering a pretrial diversionary program, call our Massachusetts law offices today at (508) 584-6955 for your free legal consultation.